The Keukenhof Gardens in Lisse, Holland may be closed now for another year, but I wanted to share some of my photos from when I visit earlier this month. This was a work trip, so the majority of what I was doing there was for work, however I did manage to get some snaps of my favourite bits of the park. Hope you don’t mind some tulip spam!
Keukenhof Gardens open every year from March – mid May, or Holland’s tulip season, and is a display of the most stunning, wild and wonderful tulips. You’re bound to have seen photos on Instagram of the tulip fields across Holland and Oregon, US this spring, but Keukenhof is a bit different.
It’s basically a tulip park, of landscaped gardens, focus areas, inspiration sections, displays, and all sorts of other gardener delights that I don’t have the terminology for. Before visiting I thought it was going to be like wandering around a garden centre, and pretty boring. Once you’ve seen one patch of tulips how much more can there be other than the same thing in different colours?
I was very wrong, I really enjoyed the day there even if I was working, and I was pleasantly surprised how much I enjoyed it and would recommend to all ages. It offers a lot more than just a wander around some gardens.
The park is split into two sections, the first area being more man made, with beautiful landscaped gardens, water features, and themed areas. These have been carefully created with bulbs planted to produce the patterns, stripes and colour schemes that you come across as you wander around.
Every year the park has a theme, that runs through all of the gardens and indoor pavilions that are dotted around the park to showcase different elements. This year the theme was romance.
Inside one of the main pavilions the romance theme was brought to life in sections, a wedding display of course was the first one we came across. All white, and including arrangements on wedding cars and carriages, table centrepieces and bouquets.
Of course you can’t have a romance theme without a cheesy quote or two, which we found in another corner.
The ‘Inspiration’ section was one of my favourite areas of the whole park. This is where small gardens have been created in different styles, to give you inspiration for your own gardens at home. There was an Asian style garden, with bamboo and water features, as well as a long list of plants to include…
A man cave which I loved….
A health garden which was designed to be an oasis of oxygen rich plants, but I was more fascinated by how tall they were. Some of these tulips came up to my waist…
And a rebel garden which was a big hit. This garden was meant to be a bit whacky, full of little gnomes and pink flamingos, bright walls and cheeky parrots.
Of course in keeping with the romance theme there was a cupid garden, with kissing gate and romantic bench under a brilliantly tacky big red heart.
My favourite of the themed gardens had to be the Delft Blue garden. In keeping with Dutch styling this blue and white garden, complete with spinning plates and tulip filled clogs was gorgeous.
It was right next to the canal, complete with a typical Dutch bridge, and had a perfect view of the windmill.
A climb up the windmill in the middle of tulip season will give you a view of the nearby Lisse fields outside of the park too. Rows and rows of colourful tulips as far as the eye can see.
It’s also a good spot to pick up some Dutch souvenirs, clogs, stroopwafels and your own bulbs from one of the many little stalls and shops in this area.
Crossing over the canal into this area brings you into the second half of the park, which was the original park that has since been expanded to create all these extra areas. The original park was simply natural gardens, with a big lake, a small forrest, and a much more natural area to wander through.
Despite being a more natural setting, it is still beautifully landscaped with clusters of colour everywhere. As well as those recognisable rows of tulip stripes, this area had a lot more wild looking tulips. All different kinds just mixed in together and they were so pretty.
As much as the fields and the stripes look good, I think I prefer this total mix of different varieties. Cherry blossom trees were dotted about this area too, and the alongside the fountains it was quite a relaxing, peaceful area compared to the other section.
The lily pad stepping stones that run along the lake are a big highlight, and like some of the other iconic spots (the windmill, the Delft Blue garden, and the boat ride) naturally attract the crowds so you may have a bit of a wait to enjoy them.
Being such a unique and beautiful spot the gardens were very busy, especially by mid afternoon. It’s so big it didn’t stop our enjoyment of the park, but I’d definitely recommend getting there early. I’d suggest that in four hours you can easily see it all, but to really enjoy it you could spend the whole day there.
There are snack carts serving up hot dogs, waffles and ice cream throughout the whole park, and plenty of cafes in the pavilions too. There’s also a kids play area, and a petting zoo near the entrance as well.
Overall Keukenhof was so much more than what I expected, and they get the balance of sculpted gardens, inspiration, technical detail and talks for the savvy gardeners who know what they’re doing, and areas for just the clueless visitor like me to enjoy.
It’s suitable for all ages, and I would encourage anyone to go if you can. It’s not expensive at all, and very easily accessible from Amsterdam. The park is now closed for 2018, but add it to your spring bucket list for next year! Full information will be available nearer the time on the official site.
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